Red Wings try to snap skid vs. Avalanche

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Detroit Red Wings hope to snap their longest losing streak of the season on Sunday night when they play host to the Colorado Avalanche.

However, they'll be missing their top goaltender in Jimmy Howard when they attempt to do so.

Howard is not expected to play this evening after suffering a lower-body injury in Friday's 2-1 loss to the New York Islanders. He stopped eight of the nine shots he faced in the first period, but was replaced by Petr Mrazek at the start of the second.

Though the Red Wings are hopeful Howard's ailment isn't serious, Thomas McCollum was recalled from the American Hockey League to back up Mrazek, who will start this game.

Mrazek has never faced the Avalanche and fell to 3-2-0 with a 2.55 goals against average and .922 save percentage in five games (4 starts) this season after getting credited with the loss on Friday.

The 22-year-old gave up a goal on 23 shots faced versus the Islanders, while Henrik Zetterberg's first-period tally was the only one Detroit could score.

That effort extended the Red Wings' skid to five in a row, with three of those coming in a shootout. They have just five goals over the losing streak, which is the longest for the club since an 0-4-2 drought from Dec. 7-17 of last year.

"We had good, good chances but we never hit the net. You've got to hit the net on some of them," said Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock. "I thought it was a pretty high-level hockey game. I was impressed with their team, but I was impressed with lots of things we did, too."

The Red Wings, though, have won four of their past five versus the Avalanche and four of the past six played at home in the series.

Colorado has points in four straight (2-0-2), snapping a two-game slide on Saturday night with a 5-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres.

The victory featured another solid outing from rookie Calvin Pickard in his fifth straight start. Pickard has gotten the call over backup Reto Berra with Semyon Varlamov out with a groin injury.

Pickard, who is expected to start again tonight and face the Red Wings for the first time, made 28 saves and improved to 4-5-2 this season with a 2.28 GAA and .934 save percentage in 11 games with eight starts.

"With every opportunity I'm given, I just want to give the team a chance to win," said Pickard, who had his bid for a shutout ended with 6:33 to play.

Erik Johnson and Cody McLeod scored in the first period for the Avalanche. Alex Tanguay then scored twice in the third frame and also set up John Mitchell's power-play goal in the period.

Mitchell played for the first time in eight games due to a leg injury.